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Questions And Answers Circulated With The Votes

Volume 180: debated on Friday 16 August 1907

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Suggested Reduction Of Patent Fees

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Patent Office fees yield a profit of nearly 100 per cent. over the cost of maintenance, and that the American Patent Office issue patent protection for seventeen years for fees less than those charged by the British office for fourteen years protection; and, having regard to all the circumstances, will he bring about a reduction of fees in this country in the interest of poor inventors. (Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) I am aware that of late years the Patent Office fees have yielded a considerable profit; but at the present time, whilst the office expenses are rapidly increasing and new duties are being thrown on the office by the Patents and Designs Bill, I can give no undertaking to reduce them, nor do I believe that it would be to the interest of poor inventors to substitute for our present fees those chargeable in the United States, which would benefit the comparatively small number of successsful inventors at the expense of the much larger number of unsuccessful inventors, who can less afford to pay. The following statement shows the com

Patent Fees in United Kingdom and United States.

United Kingdom.

United States.

Fee on application accompanied with provisional specification£1Preliminary fee£.3
Fee on filing complete specification.£3
Fee on sealing.£1Fee on allowance of patent£4
Fee for renewal at end of 4th year£5No fees are levied subsequent to the above.
And further renewal fees increasing by £1 annually to £14 at the end of the 13th year.

Note.—Every United States patent remains in force for seventeen years. Of British patents over 6.5 per cent. are allowed to expire at the end of the fourth year, presumably because the patented invention has not proved a success. On these, therefore, the fees paid amount to £.) only, as compared with £7 in the United States. In regard to the additional £5 charged in the United Kingdom for patents renewed at the end of four years, it may safely be assumed that only such patents will be renewed as have met with some measure of success, in which case the fee is a comparatively unimportant matter to the patentee. Only 4 per cent. of British patents remain in force for the full term of fourteen years.

Gratuity Of Michael Shea, Postmaster At Bonane

To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that Michael Shea, of Kenmare, who has been for twenty four and-a-half years in the service of the Post Office for ten years as sub-postmaster at Bonane, county Kerry, and for eleven years as an established postman, has been given the sum of £25 as a compassionate gratuity; and whether steps will be taken to give him an increased amount as a reward for services rendered during this long period. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) 4s I informed the hon. Member in a letter dated the 12th instant, Michael Shea, who was an unestablished, and not an established, postman at Kenmare, was not eligible for an award under the Superannuation Acts on his retirement, but a grant of £25 was made to him from

parative cost of patents in the United Kingdom and United States respectively—

a special fund at my disposal for the benefit of certain unestablished officers. I regret that it is not in my power to make any addition to the amount already awarded.

Government Grant To Hartley University College

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that in the Report on the Hartley University College, of Southampton, it is stated that the college is taking a much more prominent, it might fairly be called a predominant, part in the orginsation of teaching in Southampton and the surrounding districts, and that the number of students in regular attendance has nearly doubled in the last few years, and that in spite of this progress the permanent Advisory Committee recommend that the Government grant should be reduced from £3,400 to £2,250; and whether he will consider the necessity, if a check is not to be put to the good work of the college, of making the grant the same as in previous years. (Answered by Mr. Asquith.) I would refer my hon. and gallant friend to the 19th paragraph of the Report of the Advisory Committee, which explains the reasons for the reduction in question. I am afraid that I can see no grounds for departing from the decision which has been arrived at.

Customs Bonded Warehouse Accounts

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury what are the functions of the Customs Statistical Office with regard to warehouse accounts of bonded goods, the total number of clerks, assistant clerks, etc., employed in performing these functions, and the annual cost. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) The functions of the Customs Statistical Office with regard to warehouse accounts of bonded goods are, by the application of certain carefully devised but purely mechanical checks and cross checks, to secure that the books kept locally at the Customs warehouses throughout the United Kingdom correctly represent the stocks of bonded goods in those warehouses. The total number of clerks, assistant clerks, and boy clerks, etc., employed at the present time in per-forming these functions is eighty and the mean annual cost for salaries is £9,.300.

Irish Surveyor's Department—Outdoor Staff

To ask the Postmaster-General of how many members does the outdoor staff of the surveyors' department in Ireland generally consist, and their designation; what is the amount of the per diem allowance granted to each officer, as also to the surveyor in respect of subsistence allowance; are they entitled to free locomotion; if so, what is the grade of the respective classes they are entitled to travel; what is the basis upon which these allowances were fixed, and when did a revision of them last take place; whether there is any restraint, and by whom exercised, in respect of the unnecessary incurring of such expenses as are now allowed on the part of the officers referred to. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The outdoor staff of the surveyors' department in Ireland consists of three surveyors, three assistant surveyors of the first class, and nine of the second class, with three inspecting telegraphists. The subsistence allowance granted to the surveyors is at the rate of 20s. a day, to the assistant surveyors at the rate of 15s. a day, and to the inspecting telegraphists at the rate of 10s. a day, in addition to the cost of locomotion. First-class fare is allowed to surveyors and assistant surveyors, and second-class fare (or third on railways which provide no second class) to inspecting telegraphists. The allowances of surveyors and assistant surveyors were fixed in the year I854, and those of inspecting telegraphists in the year 1893. The travelling accounts of all offices in the Post Office are checked and scrutinised in detail before payment is made, and any unnecessary claims are disallowed.

Work In Strabane Post Office

To ask the Postmaster-General, with reference to the administration of the Strabane post office, whether he is aware that daily between the hours of 2.45 a.m. and 5 a.m. the heaviest incoming and despatch of mails and parcels in the twenty-four hours takes place; that the former consists generally of seven large bags, which, on the occasion of the arrival of the American mails, is increased to nine bags, and twelve parcels baskets, whilst the despatch between these hours amounts to thirty-two bags and, on an average, about twelve parcels baskets, whilst to cope with this volume of work a staff of four telegraphists is provided; that not infrequently a junior telegraphist, assisted by two season substitutes and a learner, have been listed to dispose of the work without the aid of a senior officer; that a senior official is not due on duty earlier than 8 a.m.; whether, if the surveyor of the district is responsible for the proper distribution of the staff of an office, he can explain under what circumstauces, during the period within which the greatest pressure of mails takes place, it is without the service of a senior and responsible officer; and, in addition to the postmaster, how many of the latter are attached to the Strabane office and to what period are their hours of attendance confined. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I am having inquiry made on the subject, and will furnish the hon. Member with a reply as soon as possible.

Navy—The Submarine Service

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that under the new scheme men have to rejoin the general service after completing five years in the submarine service, an arrangement which is unfair to ratings who are now serving, as it was verbally understood that they were to remain in the submarine service as long as they were medically fit and otherwise desirable; whether he recognises that by this new scheme these ratings suffer disadvantage and loss, and that many petty officers would have preferred passing for warrant rank had they but known they would have thus to revert after five years service in submarines, and that it has affected their insurance policies; and whether, in view of these facts, he will arrange that the new scheme shall only affect ratings joining after the date on which it comes into vogue, 14th May, 1907. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) The Answer to the first Question is in the affirmative, but the Admiralty are not aware of the verbal understanding referred to. It is recognised that the men will cease to draw the special rate of submarine pay on rejoining the general service. As previously stated, the Admiralty are not aware of anything which would lead the petty officers in question to suppose that they would be permanently retained in the submarine service. The recent orders as to Submarine service were issued after careful consideration of the whole question by a. Committee and subsequently by the Board, and it is not intended to reverse the decision arrived at.

The Home Fleet

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty to what classes the forty-nine vessels of the Home Fleet belong which did not assemble at Cowes and proceed to sea after the recent inspection in the Solent; what was the reason of [their absence on that occasion, and why the four vessels which were present at the inspection did not afterwards proceed to sea. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) Of the forty-nine vessels, twenty-two were special service vessels, two battleships, six cruisers and nineteen destroyers. The main reason for the absence of the battleships, cruisers, and destroyers was that their ordinary repairs should not be interfered with. After the inspection two vessels were required for attendance on His Majesty the King, one proceeded to port to test gun sights, one was a mine layer and would not have benefited from the exercises at sea.

Killadeas National School

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the National School at Killadeas, county Fermanagh, is very inconveniently situated, is at present in a ruinous and insanitary state, condemned by the Commissioners, and that it is intended to build a new school on a more convenient site; that, owing to the place and condition of the school, the attendance has fallen off and was very low in 1906; that a much better attendance will certainly result from the improved site and building, but the Commissioners will not make a grant, even for as large a school as the old one, but insist on a much smaller building, calculating on the shrunken attendance roll of 1906, though the manager, who has known the school and district for several years is desirous that the school should be as large as the old one, and anticipates its being fully attended; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Commissioners of National Education are aware that the existing accommodation at Killadeas national school is unsatisfactory, and they have regarded the manager's application for a grant towards the erection of a new school house as coming under the class of urgent cases, which may be taken up without waiting for the issue of the standard plans. The official records since 1900 do not show that the attendance has fallen off or that it was very low in 1906. The following are the averages of attendance for the last seven years: 1900, 31; 1901. 29: 1902, 30; 1903, 29; 1904, 26; 1905, 28; and 1906, 33. The new school house, which the Commissioners have provisionally sanctioned, is the largest admissible under the regulations that now determine the accommodation to be provided in new vested national school houses. The averages of pupils on the rolls and in attendance, upon which were based the calculations for the new building, were those for 1906, and were the largest for any year since 1900. According to present standard the old house affords floor space accommodation 50 per cent. in excess of that which is required for the attendance, and its size is no criterion by which to determine the dimensions of the new house, towards the cost of erecting which State aid may be given.

Sale Of Barracks

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether any revised estimate has been made of the amount of £500,000 credited to the last Military Works Bill for the sale of barracks; and whether he can state how many barracks have been completed since 1895 which are now for sale, have been sold, or which are now empty owing to the War Office having no immediate use for them. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The amount credited to the loan to date for the sale of barracks is £51,761. It is not proposed to take any further credits to the loan under this head. The following barracks completed since 1895 are now for sale—

  • Barberton, South Africa.
  • Jamestown, St. Helena.
  • West Point, Esquimalt.
  • Various barracks at the Morne and Vigie, St. Lucia.
The following barracks completed since 1895 have been sold— Pietersburg, Transvaal. The following barracks completed since 1895 are now empty— Mauritius (iron huts), for native troops. Trincomalie, for native troops. In some of the above-mentioned cases negotiations are now in progress for the transfer of the buildings to the Colonial Governments under the recognised conditions in such cases.

Pay Of Labourers In Devonport Gun Wharf

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the eighteen men employed in the workshops of the Army Ordnance Department, His Majesty's Gun Wharf, Devonport, are not now granted the extra Is. per week which has been given to the labourers; that these men, before the advance, were in receipt of 22s. 6d. per week, that included 6d. per day allowed them for skilled work; and that the extra Is. which was paid to them for a few weeks has been withdrawn by the deduction of 2d. per day from the 6d. for skilled work, leaving them only 22s. 6d. as before; and whether, seeing that men employed in the dockyard on similar work are receiving from 24s. to 27s. per week, he will favourably consider restoring to these eighteen men the advance in wages recently granted to their comrades. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) As I have already explained to the House on 3rd June, the wages paid to the men doing the work in question remain unchanged, and, on the information now in my possession, I do not consider them inadequate for the work which the men have to perform.

Message From The Lords

That they have agreed to:—Vaccination Bill, with an Amendment; Criminal Appeal Bill; Lights on Vehicles Bill; Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Bill; Barry Railway Bill; Metropolitan Water Board (Various Powers) Bill; Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway (Additional Capital, etc.) Bill, with Amendments.

Amendments to:—Colne Valley War Bill [Lords]; Glasgow Corporation B [Lords], without Amendment.